by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the ''NATO Talk around the Brandenburg Tor'' Conference
So president Schmidt, congratulations with the strong election result and I was never able to obtain anything like that when I did election campaigns in Norway.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is really a great pleasure to see you all and to be here in Berlin today and to be able to participate in this very important forum. And I really feel that I’m among friends of NATO.
Twenty-nine years ago – almost to the day – a peaceful revolution brought down the Berlin Wall.
And the Brandenburger Tor ceased to be a Cold War symbol of division.
It returned to what it was intended to be:
An opening. A passage. Truly a gate, not a barrier.
Soon the Brandenburger Tor became a symbol of unity and freedom that helped to usher in the end of the Cold War.
And the spread of freedom across what was then a divided continent.
Yesterday, I was in Paris to mark another historic moment.
The day the guns of World War I fell silent.
One hundred years ago.
And the carnage and devastation of that terrible conflict came to an end.
Both these anniversaries remind us of what Europe had suffered in the twentieth century. War. Chaos. Destruction. And oppression.
The anniversaries also remind us of the importance of the transatlantic bond.
And how Europe, together with the United States overcame two world wars.
And the Cold War.
And how the US security guarantees underpinned the integration of Europe.
So that we entered the twenty first century with peace and freedom.
But today, some doubt the strength of the transatlantic partnership.
And we have to be honest and admit that we see differences and disagreements.
Over issues such as trade, the Iran nuclear deal and other issues.
But we should remember that we have had our differences before.
The Suez Crisis in 1956. The French withdrawal from the NATO command structure a decade later. And of course the Iraq war in 2003.
So difference of opinion is nothing new.
We are 29 democracies.
With different history, different geography and different culture. Disagreements are natural. But the lesson of history is that we have been able to overcome our differences.
We unite around our common goal. We stand together. We protect each other.
We must ensure that we continue to do so in the future. Because we have a shared strategic interest and shared values. And because we face a more uncertain security environment together.
That is the reason why we are now making the security ties between Europe and North America even stronger.
The US is increasing its military presence in Europe for the first time since the end of the Cold War, with more troops, more equipment, and more exercises. Including here in Germany.
In recent years, the US has increased the funding for its military presence in Europe by 40 percent.
And for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Canadian troops are back in Europe. Leading a battlegroup in Latvia,
Europeans are also stepping up. Raising the readiness of their forces. Improving equipment. And spending billions more on defence.
And just last week we saw the end of NATO’s biggest exercise since the end of the Cold War. With more than 50,000 troops. Almost half came from North America. And 8,000 from Germany.
A demonstration of the real defence cooperation between our two continents.
This transatlantic partnership is about deterrence and defence. But also about dialogue and disarmament.
Over decades, arms control agreements built up trust and cut down nuclear weapons. One of these agreements was the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the INF Treaty. A Treaty born out of transatlantic efforts. And a cornerstone of arms control in Europe.
In the 1970s and 80s, and I see that some of you lived at that time, as did I, a whole generation of political leaders was shaped by the debate on intermediate nuclear forces in Europe. And I am part of that generation.
The deployment of Soviet SS20s missiles was of profound concern.
And Germany was at the center of that debate.
Thanks to courageous politicians, such as Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, NATO decided on a dual track, the double track decision. Combining firmness with dialogue.
Therefore, in 1979 NATO defense ministers decided to deploy new nuclear missiles in Europe in response to the Soviet Union.
While at the same time reaching out for dialogue with the Soviet Union. That was not an easy decision. But in doing so they laid the ground for the INF treaty. Signed by the US and the Soviet Union in 1987.
This didn’t just reduce the overall number of nuclear weapons. It banned a whole category of weapons that were specifically designed to target Europe. So it was a real achievement in the work for nuclear disarmament.
The deployment of new Russian missiles is putting this historic treaty in jeopardy.
For years, Russia has developed, produced, tested and fielded a new missile system. The SSC-8. These missiles are mobile. They are hard to detect.They can be nuclear-armed. They reduce warning time to minutes. They lower the threshold for nuclear conflict. And they can reach European cities like Berlin.
For years, Allies, including Germany, have raised their concerns. Time and again.
The US has raised the matter formally at senior levels more than 30 times. Starting under the Obama administration.
Allies have repeatedly pressed Russia. To ensure full, verifiable and transparent compliance. And, after years of denials, Russia now acknowledges the existence of a new missile system.
The United States is in full compliance with its obligations under the INF Treaty. So while there are no new US missiles in Europe. There are new Russian missiles.
The new Russian missile system poses a serious risk to the strategic stability of the Euro-Atlantic area.
NATO has no intention to deploy new nuclear missiles in Europe. But as an Alliance we are committed to the safety and the security of all Allies. We must not allow arms control treaties to be violated with impunity. Because that undermines the trust in arms control in general.
So we call on Russia to ensure compliance, and to return to constructive dialogue with the United States.
The threats to the INF Treaty are serious but they are not the only ones we are facing. Our security environment is challenging. And requires us all to stand strong. Therefore, increased EU efforts on defence are important for the security of Europe. And it can make NATO stronger. So I welcome these efforts. But only if they are anchored within the transatlantic partnership. Which has been the foundation for European peace and security for the past 70 years.
As we move forward on defence in Europe, we should do so in order to strengthen the transatlantic relationship. Because non-EU Allies play a central role in European security.
It is impossible to envisage the defences of Europe without countries like Turkey in the South, being key in the fight against terrorism, and all the violence and instability we have seen in Iraq and in Syria.
Norway in the North. And without Canada, the United States – and the UK – in the west. Because after Brexit, 80 percent of NATO defence spending will come from non EU NATO allies. So European unity can never be a substitute for transatlantic unity.
Ladies and gentlemen.
A section of the Berlin Wall stands vigil at the entrance to NATO’s new headquarters in Brussels. It is a solemn reminder of the cruel division and the real dangers of the Cold War. Today, I am proud to stand with you in Berlin.
To celebrate the Brandenburger Tor as a symbol of openness, freedom and peace. And to honor the foresight and fortitude of Allied nations. That built an enduring, transatlantic partnership after the devastation of the two World Wars. Let us continue to stand united. In support of our shared values. And our shared security. We owe that to ourselves. To future generations. And to those who fought and sacrificed to secure a more peaceful world.